Why is it when foreigners speak English, one can generally tell what native language they speak?

Blindfolded, one can tell a Chinese person speaking English, or a French person, or a Mexican. How do you explain that ?


  1. Different languages have different phonology and sets of phonemes. Errors in pronunciation are often the result of this, and they are often consistent.

    Children acquire the basics of language at a young age, and that carries over to adulthood. If you’re extremely used to making an alveolar approximant for your ‘r’ sound and then suddenly try a language with a retroflex approximant, you might have trouble.

  2. I find I can’t tell the difference between a Chinese, Japanese, or Korean accent when they speak English. I know a Vietnamese accent when I hear one only because my ex gf was Vietnamese.

  3. Because each foreign country has a different way of pronouncing things and each has a different accent! So you and I speaking very good english can tell where they are from. Like me, I’m mixed so my family speaks alot of languages, some speak French, or Spanish. I speak Italian, some Spanish and French, and of course English. I can tell when someone is trying to speak english and where they come from especially if they are Latino speaking Spanish and white speaking French!

  4. It’s just like people in the US…you can usually pick out different Americans speaking english with a blindfold on…you know, if someone is from the south, the west, the east, or the midwest…
    They all have different accents. So it is with people from other countries. They pronounce things differently in thier language, and it carrys over. Plus, not all languages have the same sounds, some don’t even have the same letters…so some people aren’t used to making some sounds. You know, like Asian leave out "r’s" and what not.


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